Mike Pence, White House makes shutdown politics American policy

Pence placed sole responsibility on Senate Democrats, even as Republican lawmakers have criticized the White House

Published January 22, 2018 10:31AM (EST)

Mike Pence (AP/Mandel Ngan)
Mike Pence (AP/Mandel Ngan)

Vice President Mike Pence visited American troops in the Middle East this weekend and unleashed a partisan attack against Senate Democrats. The rare political jab by a vice president in front of military falls in line with what has become official government policy — top to bottom — since the federal shutdown began at midnight on Friday: Blame the Democrats at all costs.

"Despite bipartisan support for a budget resolution, a minority in the Senate has decided to play politics with military pay," Pence told U.S. troops during a visit to the Middle East, NBC reported. "But you deserve better. You and your families shouldn’t have to worry for one minute about whether you’re going to get paid as you serve in the uniform of the United States."

Pence's destruction of political norms — his use of the military as a political prop — didn't go unnoticed.

There are some deep contradictions about the vice president telling troops abroad that the Democrats have played politics, as his speech, in its entirety, was nothing more than a deliberately misleading partisan attack. The Trump administration has used the federal shutdown as leverage against Democrats, while pushing the president's agenda. But contrary to Pence's assertion that he has worked with Trump to find a solution, the White House has only made matters more difficult for Senate Republicans.

On Sunday afternoon, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., blasted the White House staff as "unreliable" and singled out senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, who holds far-right views on immigration. And as it turns out, the president may be much more removed from the shutdown negotiations than the White House, and he, himself, have let on, as Salon has previously reported. Trump's Chief of Staff John Kelly, and Miller, have been highly influential in discussions with lawmakers.

Meanwhile, the White House defended an ad run by Trump's re-election campaign that accused Democrats of being "complicit" with killings committed by undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

"We cannot protect this country if we don't secure our border," Sanders said on Monday. "That's the point the president is trying to make . . . it's absolutely appropriate for the commander-in-chief of this country to do everything he can to make sure he's protecting our citizens."

It wasn't only in the form of advertisements, however. The White House voicemail also blamed Democrats for the shutdown.

Remember when the GOP chastised the Democrats about toning down rhetoric when conservative lawmakers attempted to rush through a secret health care bill that would have stripped insurance coverage from millions of Americans? Toning down rhetoric doesn't seem to matter anymore, as the Trump administration continues to draw equivalencies between immigration and murder — a false narrative.

By Charlie May

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